Redefining Boundaries: Exploring the Importance of Global Expansion for Japanese Companies
“This year, our theme is Global Expansion!”
Have you ever heard this phrase? Many Japanese companies have long set their sights on global expansion as a mid- to long-term goal.
However, not many of these companies have actually been able to develop a realistic plan – let alone put it into action. Why is this? Well, there are several barriers that stand in the way of companies that seek to expand their business to the global market.
By doing so, there is the potential to make a big difference not only in the future growth of the company, but also in its impact on society.
Why is Global Expansion Important?
The phrase “global expansion” evokes a sense of stylishness. Many companies dream of having their products featured on shelves around the world, wouldn’t you agree?
Brand names such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, for example, are recognized by people in every country they operate in, and they have an image of being globally famous.
Beyond image and coolness, however, there are several logical reasons why a business should or must go global.
Japanese companies should consider expanding overseas for the following reasons:
1. Gain Access to a Larger Market
The global market is approximately 10 times larger than Japan’s domestic market. Expanding globally can offer significantly greater returns for the same effort.
With Japan’s stagnant GDP and the global market’s growth, targeting only the domestic market limits growth potential.
2. Freedom to Specialize
Expanding globally allows companies to focus on their core products or services. Japanese companies often provide a wide range of services, spreading their resources thinly.
By concentrating on a single product and gathering optimal resources, companies can enhance product quality and compete globally.
3. Ease of Access to Funds and Human Resources
Accessing the global market makes it easier to attract funds and talented individuals.
When operating in a larger market, companies gain the support of a wider pool of investors and attract global talent interested in the company’s vision, potential, and social impact. This creates growth opportunities and helps companies to build stronger teams.
Expanding solely in the Japanese domestic market can lead to challenges:
1. Difficulty Attracting Talent
Lack of progress in global expansion can demotivate employees who were initially attracted to the company’s future global aspirations. It becomes harder to retain and attract talented individuals.
2. Loss of Competitive Advantage
Although Japanese products and services may initially excel, over time, international competitors gather resources and know-how. When these international companies bring their businesses to the Japanese market they will pose a threat to domestic companies.
3. Limited Domestic Niche Markets
Japanese niche markets are often smaller in size compared to global niches. Targeting a small domestic niche market restricts a company’s growth and potential.
4. Risk in the Domestic Big Market
Targeting only the large domestic market comes with challenges, such as competition with established major companies and the risk of commoditization.
Japanese companies may face difficulties when competing with countries, like China, whose companies also operate in the domestic Japanese market. This can lead to overproduction and price wars.
To succeed in global expansion, companies should consider the following strategies:
1. Create Products for Overseas Markets from the Beginning
Developing products with a global focus from the start can increase the chances of success in overseas markets.
2. Shift Management Mindset
Top management should be open to a 180-degree change in their thinking to adapt to global markets’ needs and business practices.
Success in global expansion takes time and involves trial and error. Companies must be prepared for a long-term commitment and not give up easily.
4. Find Local Partners
Collaborating with local partners who have knowledge and experience in target markets is crucial for successful expansion.
5. Recruit Personnel Overseas
Hiring local talent when establishing overseas offices ensures a better understanding of local culture and enhances market penetration.
6. Utilize Japan’s Organizational Strengths
While the core team can be in Japan, it is important to adapt the organizational structure to resemble that of a local company. Japan’s organizational strength and product quality can be leveraged.
7. Aim for a Global Brand
Developing a global brand image, including company name, product name, logo, and catch copy, helps appeal to international audiences.
8. Prioritize User Experience
Providing exceptional user experience is crucial for success in global markets. Japan’s service-oriented culture can give it an advantage in delivering a superior user experience.
Overall, expanding globally requires a shift in mindset, perseverance, strategic planning, and an understanding of local markets to maximize growth potential and succeed in international markets.
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